It has been said that President Franklin D. Roosevelt was tired of the typical small talk and flattery he received when meeting with adoring guests at various White House receptions. FDR was certain that guests really weren’t listening to what he had to say, so at one particular event President Roosevelt decided he would make the exact same comment to each guest to see if, in fact, they were listening. As the guests arrived and shook the President’s hand he smiled politely and said in jovial tones, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.”
As Roosevelt expected, the guests simply gushed and paid the President a compliment and move along. It’s easy to think that President Roosevelt found the interchange both amusing and ultimately a bit sad. As the last of the guests were coming through a foreign diplomat shook Roosevelt’s hand and heard the President say, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” The diplomat stopped for a moment and replied, “I’m sure she had it coming to her.”
Just like the President, customers are used to feeling as if their concerns are really of no concern to the business they had just purchased from.
Imagine a customer thinking it was possible to send an email to the customer service department of your business and say something similar to the greeting given by President Roosevelt. How many of these individuals would receive an autoresponder email that never really allowed them to believe that any real person actually reviewed their email?
Autoresponders are a great first line of defense, but the emails that come into your business should be reviewed by your staff and responded to. Follow through is something most businesses find difficult to do, yet for some customers your response or lack thereof is a litmus test for whether your business deserves their long-term patronage.
We don’t have to look very far to find bad service, but most customers will reward a listening ear with additional business.
At a small lawn and garden firm in Nebraska, Lloyd has been rewarded year after year with repeat customers because he takes the time to listen. Customers can approach Lloyd about any lawn and garden subject (and sometimes they just like to discuss life) and he will listen. Even if he can’t compete with the box stores, Lloyd continues to have strong customer relations because he insists on viewing his customers as neighbors and less as dollar signs.
Customer service can be one of the best ways to foster customer loyalty, but a listening ear and follow through are essential – even on the Internet.